“Linda  Ronstadt and the Stone Ponies”.

 

It was a Thursday, late summer morning, in 1967. I was hitchhiking on Telegraph road from Birmingham to Pontiac, and eventually to my parent’s home in Rochester. A van, painted hippy style stopped and picked me up. It was crowded with several other hippies, amplifiers, drums, suitcases, etc. I squeezed in. They asked if I knew where Silverbell was. I told them it so happened that Friday and Saturday nights I was doing a Light Show there. The guy driving said they were the opening act that weekend and he was their manager and asked if I knew the owner of Silverbell so they could get in that day and sleep on the floors. I saw the sleeping bags and said they were welcome to stay at my parent’s house, only a 15 minute drive from Silverbell. My parents were used to me bringing home strays. We went directly there. I went in and explained the situation to my mom & dad. They said they could put their sleeping bags on the family room and living room floors. My mom, noticed one of them was a girl, and said she could stay in my younger sister’s room. Then she asked if they were hungry. A simultaneous “YES” was said by all.

 

Linda and my mom went into the kitchen, made some sandwiches and warmed up some leftovers and all had a lunch. My mom and Linda became friends quickly and Linda explained the situation, being between gigs, and not having any money until after the weekend at Silverbell. After all were fed, they brought in their sleeping bags, etc. and found corners, couches, etc. Linda met my little sister (12 Years old), and my sister asked if she could sleep in the sleeping bag on the floor of her bedroom and Linda could have her bed. Naps seemed to occur as sleepiness wafted over the tired, road worn hippies. My mom drove into town, bought a turkey, a roast beef, some hamburger and buns, a sack of potatoes, bacon, eggs and other groceries. They started to wake up when they smelled hamburgers cooking. My dad played the banjo and asked them to bring in their instruments and they could play. We had a piano. They jammed for an hour or so, except for Linda who was helping my mom in the kitchen.

 

After a huge supper that night, Linda announced that she sings for her supper. She sat down on the piano bench with her acoustic guitar and sang “Silver Thread and Golden Needles.” Me and my parents were blown away! While jamming with my dad, one of the guys broke a guitar string. It got real quiet, real fast. My dad said just put in a new one and let’s play some more. They didn’t have any spare guitar strings. It was late and they were all still tired and laid down to sleep. My dad told the guy with the broken string, don’t worry about it, he would take care of it tomorrow.

In the morning, the smell of bacon cooking woke everyone up. A huge breakfast, and the day was started. My dad asked how many guitars they had. There were 5 altogether. He said there was a music store in town, and he would drive 3 of them into the music stores for new strings for all their guitars. They said they didn’t have any money. He told them don’t worry about it, he knew the owner of the store. They went off and came back in an hour or so all smiles. I knew my dad didn’t know the owner of the store. Later he told me he took the owner aside and said he would pay for the strings, just fix them up with 2 sets for each guitar. Friday, after lunch, they restrung all their guitars and played a few songs “to warm up”, but it was really for my dad, who loved live music. When they were in town getting new strings, my mom brought out a fresh towel and showed Linda where the shower was off the master bedroom. She liked that. Then my mom brought out a stack of towels for all. The guys took turns Throughout the afternoon and used the regular bathroom shower. A big Turkey dinner was cooking since late morning. Before they left for the gig, we all had a great feast. I had my mom’s car loaded with my light show equipment. One of them rode with me and the rest followed in their van. They warned my parents they would be coming in late that night. My dad pointed to me and said, “We’re used to it.”

 

We arrived home about 1:00 AM, smoked a few joints and made some turkey sandwiches, leftovers, etc. and went to bed. Next morning, another big breakfast. Some jamming, a walk around the neighborhood, and it was lunch time. Linda was right with my mom helping prepare food, including a roast beef for supper. That afternoon, it was low key, Linda poked around the piano, and sang a little. The guys were practicing some songs, taking showers, etc. Then we had a Roast beef supper. Talk about some satisfied hippies. Linda took her shower last, and really fixed her hair pretty, for the huge Saturday night crowds that Silverbell was known for. They asked if they could stay there that night after the gig before going on the road Sunday. Of course my parents said, “No Problem”. We went to Silverbell. No one ever heard of them except for a few patrons that were there on Friday night. They were opening for Bob Seger. They played a couple of Ho-Hum Southern Country Rock songs. Then Linda announced this one was for Colini’s parents. She played and sang, “Silver Thread and Golden Needles”. Her meticulous voice carried throughout the dance floor. Everyone stopped and listened. It was beautiful! Then they played some good Rock & Roll songs. Everyone applauded and thought they were great. Seger came out before their last few numbers to watch Linda sing. They stayed for the whole gig. I packed up my projectors and strobe lights while they packed their van. When we got home, we sat on the back patio, smoked a few numbers, raided the kitchen and went to bed. Sunday morning we had another one of my dads now famous breakfasts. Linda and my mom packed up several dozen turkey and roast beef sandwiches and apples and other stuff for their road trip. They left about noon. After they were gone, my dad said, “You know, I’ll bet that someday she’ll be famous. She could really sing.”
 

To me it was another typical, end of the summer weekend. One I will never forget. Sometimes I wonder if Linda remembers that weekend.